10 steps to Freedom from Emotional Eating

A closeup of a smiling woman's eyes

When we journey into the “Void”, the truth we discover may be that we really want to quit the awful job, the dead relationship, yell and scream, and dance, and do anything other than shovel food and feelings into our body and soul.

I am a binge eater and overeater. I suffered through years of calorie counting and ‘yo-yo’ dieting, with little success. I frantically ate chocolate truffles when I wasn’t hungry. I was overweight and ashamed. One day I luckily stumbled upon Sacredhunger.com. Created by a recovered bulimic, author (“Living Binge-Free”, “Beyond the Food Game”),and psychotherapist, Jane Latimer, this innovative model approaches overeating from a new perspective. They talk about ‘aliveness’ and feelings and tuning into our bodies, not about calorie counting.

This incredible online curriculum (teleclasses and emailed lessons) gave me my first freedom from binging.

Through the gateway of the wound

When we go beyond calorie-counting we take a journey into the place where some of the ‘yucky’ feelings are. But it is exactly in this place, ‘through the gateway of the wound’ that we can enter to travel beyond the overeating and binging symptoms, to re-emerge into the incredible aliveness and joy trapped in the eating patterns. The following are the steps that led me out of the nightmare of binge-eating:

10 Steps to Freedom from Emotional Eating

1. Love yourself

I learned to love myself even when I binge; to love the overweight me. This was hard!

When we embrace our negativity (shame, guilt, fear, anger and grief and fat), we are in essence creating for ourselves a new reality. It doesn’t matter how much shame, guilt, or fear we experience. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done. We know that we are lovable deep down underneath all the ‘garbage’.

2. Give up perfectionism

Welcome to an ‘imperfect world’. What is an ideal body or weight? Who is to say? I learned to see life more as a spiral or zig-zag, not a straight line. Life is more fluid now. Sometimes I still binge, although rarely, and I accept this part of me that binges. I focus more on becoming aware of my hopes and dreams.

3. Break out of the “Being-Nice” trap

Oooh. This was a ‘big’ one. How many ‘jolly’ fat people are crying inside? I used to be the ‘nicest’ person you would ever encounter. You could be violating my boundaries, stepping on my shoes and insulting me, but I would always be sweetly smiling. Afterwards I might binge. I am learning the difference between being nice and genuine caring. It’s a fine line. If any of the following feelings are familiar you may be caught in the snares of “the being-nice trap”:

“Feeling extraordinarily dry, fatigued, frail, depressed, confused, gagged, muzzled, unaroused… Feeling frightened, halt or weak, without inspiration, without animation, without soulfulness, without meaning, shame-bearing, chronically fuming, volatile, stuck, uncreative, compressed, crazed… not insistent on one’s own tempo, to be self-conscious…

A healthy woman is much like a wolf: robust, chock-full, strong life force, life-giving, territorially aware, inventive, loyal, roving…” women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

4. Find alternative means of coping

Sharing problems, dialoguing, journal writing, communicating with Self, dreamwork, reflecting and meditating. I drive near a forest nearby and tune into nature, let my mind rest from dwelling on problems, try to feel some joy…

5. Nurture yourself in new ways

I give myself what I need. I sleep when I am tired, eat when I am hungry, love when I feel empty. I enjoy my solitude when I need to be alone and I share with others when I need to express myself.

6. Be open to Intimacy

I allowed others into my life. I trusted. This is what I really ‘craved’. It’s much more fulfilling that the extra cupcake. Yes, It’s scary sometimes. But I meditate more, keep a journal, dialogue with the scared part of me, experiment. I did grief work. I became more sensitive to people. I became more aware of who was capable of being ‘there’ for me.

7. Find your Boundaries

Flamenco dancers… True Boundaries exist as we learn to “focus” our awareness on our core. We learn to protect our core from outside influence and distraction, we grow our boundaries. Don’t think of a boundary as a “line” around you defining your space. Think of it as a field of power.

To help you understand this concept, think of the image of the flamenco dancer. Think of the kind of intense, deep passion that flamenco dancers express and how “contained” the flamenco dancer is. That containment allows for the direct focusing of her passion. It isn’t loosely falling all over the place. It isn’t scattered and directionless. It isn’t being nice and pretty. It isn’t, what Clarissa Pinkola Estes calls, sanitized. The dancer doesn’t stop in the middle to answer an irrelevant question, or become distracted by the details of who is in the audience and who isn’t. She is utterly self-contained and focused.

8. Connect

We learn to disconnect in a number of ways. The most popular and acceptable way is we live from our heads, not our hearts. We learn to put our feelings aside and relate through our mental functioning. We numb out. We become “nice.” We focus on others for the purpose of losing touch with ourselves. We sabotage our truth in order to be accepted and fit in.

Today I notice when I am disconnecting. I also know how I connect: Meditation, going into the woods and nature, being kind to myself and others.

9. “Fall into Heart”

Instead of binging, find your safety resources, (a safe place, people you can trust and call when you feed bad ) and begin to FEEL the feelings instead of stuffing them with food. Fragmentation is the experience of our disconnected, disjointed and splintered selves. It’s an out-of-control feeling, the feelings underneath the binging. It’s difficult but a blessing. This is where the raw stuff is, where the work is. Journal, dialogue, begin to work with the feelings. I was taught techniques to navigate fragmentation.

10. Stop thinking about Food and LIVE!

As we heal, we are less obsessed with food and calorie counting. We take small steps to begin to feel our passions, what excites us and we begin to follow our inner callings. Food compulsions fall away as an issue, naturally and we move into our fierce aliveness.

EXERCISE

What will true recovery look like?

This exercise will help you get in touch with what you want out of recovery.

With pen and paper in hand, sit in a comfortable chair. Relax, be still and quiet. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply and continue to do so until you are very relaxed. While in this deep and quiet space, feel into a typical day of your present life. What activities occupy your time? What thoughts? What feelings? What is the general pace of your life? The overall feeling?

Now get specific. Ask yourself the following questions and jot the answers down. It is very important to remain in a passive, serene state of mind while you do this. Do not lose your connection with this deep place.

  • How much time to I spend on enjoyable activities?
  • What are these activities?
  • What feelings occupy most of my time?
  • What thoughts occupy most of my time?
  • What activities occupy most of my time?
  • How much time is spent binging?
  • What types of activities do I now do to help me cope with stress, conflicts, difficult emotions?
  • How much time is allotted for growth and development?
  • How much time do I spend alone, with others?
  • Is this time enjoyable? Fulfilling?
  • How much time is spent on activities that challenge and excite?
  • What are these activities?
  • How many of my day’s activities would I rather not be doing?

When you’ve finished answering the above questions, again be still and quiet and let yourself feel into the quality of your life at present.

Now imagine yourself at a Future Time. Repeat and ask the same questions. Notice the differences…

Now ask for guidance. I like to ask my Inner Self, “What do I need to do at this point in time to help myself make this future life a reality?” Be still and wait. Your answer may come in any form – a feeling, a flash of knowing, a visual symbol, a sensation; or it may come from the outside, at a later date – a statement a friend or therapist might make, an event that alters your way of perceiving. Remain open. The answer will come. Jane Latimer

Visit Sacred Hunger.com

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